Cheap Refurbished Computers

Many libraries, schools and universities sell old computers for as little as $5. Here’s a way to make them usable again…

As many computers are returned from business leases and removed from service, many of them are destined for closets, basements and landfills. I bought two Pentium 3 computers from our local library for five dollars apiece. The purchase included Microsoft brand optical mice, which were probably worth five dollars if I sold them on eBay. Several months earlier, I purchased a 10 pack of Kensington computer keyboards for two dollars apiece. The two computers already had certified versions of Windows 98 installed, with valid Microsoft certificate numbers on the case. Since these computers came with certificate numbers, if the hard drives had been full of junk, it could have borrowed someone’s Windows 98 installation disks to install a legal replacement copy using the certificate numbers that were on the tag on the computer case.

In their previous life, these computers were used as terminals for a library database system. When I received them, they had installed only 128 MB of RAM so they didn’t run very quickly. I used Google to find the specifications of the computer and to find out the type and maximum amount of memory that could be installed. I used Google again to find the specific type of memory that I needed and then I searched at eBay for the best price for the memory. The cost to upgrade the memory to the maximum allowed 768 MB was about $30 including shipping.

The computers I purchased for five dollars apiece at the library had mostly empty hard drives. They also had network interface cards, so I was able to connect them to my wired Internet connection and my office to download and install updates to the operating system. I also installed a copy of the Firefox web browser and a copy of the open office wordprocessing software.

My mother, like many computer users, doesn’t require a lot of processing power for the things she does with the computer. She types letters with a word processor, she occasionally searches for things on Google, and she reads articles online. None of those things require the latest and greatest computer technology. So at a total cost of under $50 for the computer, and about $20 for a cathode ray terminal CRT screen, my mother has a computer that matches, and probably exceeds, her needs.

So, if you have a friend or relative who has simple computing needs and a limited budget you might consider checking with your local library or businesses to see if they have off lease or auto service computers that they might be selling at an upcoming book sale. Upgrading the computer could be easy, inexpensive, and rewarding.

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